Monday, March 3, 2014

The Best Tip...Finding a Doctor and Dentist For Our Kids


Finding a doctor or dentist for Nicky's special needs care was not easy and it took me some time. I'm sure there is still much to learn, but had I known what I know now, I could have saved time, thousands of dollars and a lot of stress!

Initially I couldn't find a dentist or pediatrician I felt comfortable with. In my quest for a good match I asked all of the pediatric doctors and dentists (via their assistants) if they worked with kids like Nick.  "The Dr. has no problem working with spectrum kids. We see these kids all the time" was the typical answer. Many failed visits later I learned they hadn't seen enough of our kids to understand how different they are. Many had patients who were high functioning kids with no behaviors, so they really thought  they could work with all ASD kids...."NOT"!!.

Doctors who claimed total competence got instantly and totally stressed out by Nicky’s behaviors. They got instantly frustrated by his lack of total cooperation, and to be truthful they got a little mean!  Nicky feeling their angst took the opportunity to get frustrated too!  I was surprised how many of doctors lacked those special little skills that made it possible to get through an exam. As a result I feel pressure because I can tell when a doctor is not really comfortable treating him. I don't want to leave without the doctor finding the problem so my focus's shift's from Nick to trying to calm the doctors down and make everything okay so we get through the exam safely and Nick's get's what he came there for!

Over time I've learned that it takes a special doctor and team to be calm and kind when a kid is yelling kicking and screaming, won't let you look in his eyes, won't open his mouth when the doctor says "AHHH" or responding when asked the number one medical question "Where does it hurt?", which our kids probably can't or won't answer. If your doctor doesn't float right through this and try to comfort you...take the hint and find another doctor.
A good match may not be easy find but they are out there, and when you find one, you know instantly! Your life get's better, the stress and feeling of being inadequate melt away.  The child's attitude instantly improves and were back on track knowing when a doctor connects with our children they get better care!  

As it turns out both Nicky’s dentist and pediatrician have special needs children!  So years later it's my opinion that the best way to find a good Dentist or Doctor is NOT how I did it calling around and asking if they see our kids.  The best ones have a child or sibling on the spectrum, or have been referred to me by a family of a child with similar needs as Nick, and a parent I know personally vouches for them. 

Bottom line:
  • Try to find doctors that have special needs kids
  • Research payment alternatives like Denti-cal regardless of your income - to expand your pool of dentists to choose from. 
  • Talk to families in your neighborhood who have older children with the same diagnosis and find out how they did things and who they used.
  • If you are in California ask your regional center case worker for assistance with medically necessary medical and dental treatments.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the information on how to find a doctor for children with autism.

    We recently wrote an article on finding a good doctor on Brain Blogger. When it comes down to finding a doctor, is communication and accessibility important to you? Does it matter whether your doctor is foreign and has as thick accent or the fact that you can't talk to your doctor through the phone directly, but through a nurse or receptionist?

    We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Kelly

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  2. I'm glad I found your blog. I just went thru something similar today. I have private insurance and denti-cal. When my co-pay amount shocked me and I wanted to use secondary insurance, I was told "we don't do that" has to be one or the other. Thank you for the information and God bless you and your child.

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